Faith and God’s Good Grace

My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT

Wow, I am still struggling to understand and embrace my weaknesses. It takes courage to look at them. It takes courage and humility to admit the weaknesses are there. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12: 9 three times, I pleaded with the Lord to relieve me of this. But He answered me, “My grace is always enough for you,” and my power finds full expression through your weakness”. Even though we don’t clearly know or understand Paul’s thorn or weakness, we know he did, and so did the Lord. He took the time to ask the Lord three times for it to be removed, and he finally came to a place of peace concerning it. The Passion Translation goes on to say, So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I am weak, I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. Learning to lean on the Lord, acknowledging our weakness, gives us the opportunity to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, not our own power and ability. Every weakness is a opportunity to release this power to work in and through us.

This past week has been busy. I started teaching astronomy and health to 4 of my grandchildren, plus our Life Group began a new study with new people! My son and his wife took a Covid delayed 10th anniversary get a way, so I helped with their children as well. Other projects popped up and let just say it’s been a full week. My “thorn” during this season seems to be tiredness. The things on my to do list were not budging. My solution: to begin the day talking to the Lord about it and thanking Him for the strength I needed to not only do the tasks, but to do it cheerfully and with strength. I was able to accomplish even more than I “felt” like I could do.

The scriptures continue with Paul writing, So I’m not defeated by my weakness, but delighted. (2 Corinthians 12:10). I admit after I acknowledged my need for Him, I was blessed and excited about how I had the energy I needed to love on my grandchildren as they needed. When was the last time you felt delighted by your weakness? I admit I came home and rested! But the patience, grace and focus I needed was there when I needed it. Paul continues: For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment—when I’m surrounded by troubles on every side and face persecution, because of my love for Christ—I am made yet stronger.For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power.

I know my “weakness” is so small compared to all the troubles and trials Paul faced, but when I stopped being frustrated by it, admitted it and then asked for help, I could complete my godly assignment. What I love about God’s grace is that it is sufficient for both the bigs and the smalls of life. It doesn’t matter. It is accessible for all things. All we have to do is position ourselves to receive it. That positioning includes the admission of our weakness to Him. Releasing our faith that when we ask, we receive. Then we allow that gracious provision to show up as He deems. It may be through help from others or the courage to tackle the job ourselves, but it will show up in a way that will show forth His power and grace, giving Him the glory, and isn’t that what we want to do with our lives?

Maybe you need His grace to overcome resentment, bitterness, or other works of the flesh, as described in Galatians 5:19. His grace is available to you. Perhaps you struggle with addictions or feelings of unworthiness. His grace is available to you. Ephesians 2:8-8 declares For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. We began our journey by faith because of the grace of God, and it is the only way we can continue. Do not short change the grace of God and your need for it in your life. It is the only way to live, relying on Him and His ways. You stumble, rely on His grace to forgive and then get back up and rely on it to keep you walking straight. It is incredible, this gift of grace we have been given–don’t let it go to waste in your life. Access it every day in every way. Your life will improve!

Father, I thank you for your amazing grace. It’s so abundant. You never run out of it. Help us to rely on You and Your strength every day. You love it when we do. It brings you glory and joy. Teach us to rely on You even more. In Jesus Name, amen.

Faith and Reaping

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 2 Corinthians 9:6

A few weeks ago, while my grandchildren were visiting, they came in with a few apples. This tree is on the backside of my property, out of my normal eyesight—so it takes these wonderful children to remind me I have fruit! For the past few years, we may have gotten a dozen or so apples from this tree each year. It is at least fifty years old and produces the best combination of sweet/ tart apples you can eat. My expectation was the kids would pick and eat them, not much bother. What a surprise it was to walk back and find dozens of apples on the ground! The tree had outdone itself. I think it is the biggest harvest we have ever had.

Now what! My two choices were to just let them sit and rot and hope the deer enjoyed their feast, or be the responsible home owner and deal with them. I had not expected to have to deal with all of these apples. My granddaughter graciously helped me pick them up. Some of them had been on the ground a long time and were not fit to process. We sorted them into keepers and composters. It was a bit overwhelming to know what to do with them all. In all honesty, I was glad some of them were past using!

But here I am with all this fruit. Now what? The next day, my daughter surprised me with bringing her girls over with two fruit dehydrators and soon an excellent team got to work with an apple peeler, slicer corer gadget, turning the apples into delicious dried snacks. I filled my crock pot to start the apple butter process. It felt so good to not let this harvest go to waste.

This tree surprised me with its abundant crop this year. Have you ever been surprised by the harvest you’ve been sowing? Do you even expect to reap the godly seeds you’ve sown into others? Don’t be misled–you cannot mock the justice of God. you will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone–especially to those in the family of faith. Galatians 6:9-10 My apple tree simply did the good job it was created for—produce apples. As we keep on walking in the Spirit, let’s expect the fruit of the Spirit to be manifested in and through our lives. Even though we are the first partakers of that fruit, it is for others to benefit from. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are then available to those around us. My apple tree surprised me with its bountiful harvest this year. Maybe our spiritual fruit will surprise us also! No matter what, please do not get discouraged when sowing love, patience etc. some soils are hard to sow into. It is not our job to discern another’s soil condition. That is up to the Lord. Keep on sowing my friends, we will reap in His season.

Father, please help us understand the importance of sowing to please your Spirit. I thank you that you are helping us in these areas. It is so easy to become self-centered and selfish, forgives us dear Father. Help us trust you to do the right thing and expect a great harvest. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and Resilience

We have great endurance in hardships and in persecutions. We don’t lose courage in a time of stress and calamity. 2 Corinthians 6:4 TPT

Resilience is the ability to adapt and bounce back from difficult life challenges. It allows us to move forward from loss and suffering, even great suffering, and grow from it. Life brings challenges. It just does. In John 16:33, Jesus tells us: I have told you all this so you may have peace in me, here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. The word for trials and sorrows is the Greek word thlipsis. Pressure, oppression, stress, anguish, tribulation, adversity, affliction, crushing, squashing, squeezing, distress are some words the New Spirit Filled translates the word thlipsis.

Isn’t it encouraging to know Jesus already knows that we will go through these things? Two things Jesus wants us to clearly have when going through trials, tribulations and sorrows: peace in Him and an encouraged heart. It is easy to allow discouragement, disillusionment and darkness to close us off from His peace and His hope. We can choose to quit, or we can choose to press on to reach the end of the prize. (Philippians 3: 14) It is for our best benefit, and for those around us to keep on pressing on. I admit, there have been times in my life when I wondered “why bother”? Life seems too hard, the struggles too real and I don’t think I have it within me to continue on. But God. Then the Holy Spirit came in with His light and His truth. Life isn’t supposed to be easy. Nobody promised us fair. As I drew near to Him, again, I found Him. I knew I did not have to navigate these alone. I knew He was there and I could even find fellowship with Him in the sufferings. Did they miraculously go away? No. But as I adjusted my perspective to understand that these are part of my life here on earth, it became easier to seek Him for His solutions.

Life with Covid’s restrictions is difficult, nor fair. My children and grandchildren face decisions I did not have to ever make. I remember my parents taking us to our doctor’s office after hours, where we found it full of our classmates waiting to receive a polio vaccine. But I know my children and grandchildren will make it. Their stories are being written for future generations. It is our job to pray for them. Encourage them. And help fill their spiritual and emotional toolbox with tools that will help them gain resilience. We can sympathize with them, but let’s not make them victims. Show them what it means to be overcomers. Help them learn gratitude for what they have, instead of continual whining for what they don’t have. It starts with us modeling it.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4: 8-9. Paul endured, and so can we, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Whatever is trying to knock you down or take you out of your assignment, don’t let it. Keep on pressing. Keep on standing. Keep on trusting. The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked. Proverbs 24: 16.

Father, I thank you for resilience. I thank you that you are helping us grow in this necessary character trait. Help us not to be thrown off course by the trials and tribulations of this world. Our hearts are full of sorrow at times, but You understand those sorrows. I thank you that as we remember you are near to the brokenhearted and you save the crushed in spirit, we will not quit. We are grateful that Your word promises us that all things will work together for our good as we keep on walking and trusting You. In Jesus Name, amen.

Faith in the Resurrection

I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. Phil 3:11

Last week a phone call surprised me. Our dear Ghanian son, Justice Ekuban Jr. called to inform me he and a team are in the process of making a modern updated movie based on the story of Ruth. It seems a missionary family head to Africa (mom, dad and two sons) where tragedy happens and the men pass. Justice didn’t take the time to tell me the entire plot due to time constraints. Apparently, in some of the opening scenes, they need a picture of an older white gentleman, so he asked me if I could send him a picture of Darryl, pre-stroke.

With a bit of fear and trepidation, I searched my photo files–because they aren’t the most organized area of my computer. I prayed, Lord help me. Help me navigate all these pictures, help me find the right ones and also help me as I experience the emotions all these photos will touch upon. As the hunt went on and I began to re-live a very special season of my life with my dear husband.

He went to be with the Lord almost nine years ago. Looking at those pictures reminded me of how real my life was with him. That may sound odd to those of you who haven’t lost a loved one. I miss him every day, but being reminded through pictures reminded me how very real it actually was. As I focused on these pictures, it overwhelmed me with joy and the blessing of having him in my life for 38 years. I said “you were real. Our life together was real.” And then I thought, I bet you are even more real up in heaven. That made me even happier!

The next day I read I Corinthians 15 which is full of teaching about the resurrection. It was so comforting to know that it is real. Jesus experienced resurrection, and so will we. But the truth is, Christ is risen from the dead, as the firstfruit of a great resurrection harvest of those who have died. I Corinthians 15: 20 The resurrection is our hope. Through it we have the power over sin, death and the grave. Another friend went to be with Jesus this week. He touched many lives and will be missed by his family. Death here on earth still has a sting and pain to it, but when we get to heaven, all our tears will be wiped away. The good news is we have a Comforter who helps us navigate grief, understands it and still gives us hope, which is good news.

Darryl is living his best life yet! Justice liked the pictures I sent him. So hopefully we will get to see this movie after it is released–not sure how or when! But at least Darryl will play a small part because when he was alive, he chose to live his life fully for Jesus. Let’s do the same.

Father, I thank you for the reality of the resurrection. Please help us understand how real it is, and the power it has given us through it. Thank you, dear Lord, for reminding us that those we miss are with you and we will be reunited with them. Help us to be lights in this dark world to share this good news with others who don’t have this hope. In Jesus Name, amen.

Faith and Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. 2 Thessalonians 3:16

I made a quick trip to the Dollar Tree yesterday. As I hunted for all the things on my list, I heard an amazing voice. A woman lifted her voice and sang, “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word” This is an old hymn from my childhood. She was loud and proud. I kept trying to find her, but with all the shoppers and the narrow aisles, I couldn’t see her. Have you ever been in the woods and heard a bird sing? You can’t see it, but you can sure hear it? It was like that. Her lilting voice cut through the chatter and people fell silent. For me, it was a glorious reminder to trust in my Jesus.

I don’t know if she deliberately was singing loud enough to be heard all over the store or not. I do know she used the gift of her amazing voice to remind others that we have a Savior named Jesus who we can put our trust in. I don’t know her church affiliation or her race. I do know she loves Jesus and is not afraid to share her trust in Him with others. Maybe she was struggling with some issues of life and needed to remind herself of His goodness. Maybe she just wanted to remind everyone of His love. Again, I don’t know. I do know everyone in the store was affected. The store was so busy yesterday. People were in every aisle. I wish I would have stopped and just looked at the people and their response, but I was so caught up in the uniqueness of it all, I just listened and shopped.

We find ourselves, once again, in an uncertain season. Not only are the Covid numbers rising again, but the division between mandatory vaccine requirements and mask wearing for job requirements is escalating. Our governor has issued mandatory vaccine requirements for all health workers, teachers and staff (both public and private schools) plus mask wearing indoors. Personal choice and decision making seems to be out of our control. If people choose not to get vaccinated and they lose their jobs, what will happen to them? Could our nation be on the verge of protest and rioting against these imposed mandates? Possibly. Do we need to fear? No. Never. Not an option. Tis time to trust in Jesus, take Him at His word, rest in His promise and seek Him like never before. Pray for our leadership. Pray for wisdom for those not vaccinated and for those who are.

Our hearts are burdened for our Christian brothers and sisters in Afghanistan as the Taliban re-establishes their authority. I read today where each family is supposed to mark an X on their house if they have daughters over the age of 12, so the Taliban can take them. If they don’t and discovered, their entire family could be executed on the spot. I can’t imagine the agony these parents are going through. Many are giving guns to their girls and letting them fight it out or choose to kill themselves. It’s horrendous. Is our God still in control? Yes. But so is the battle. Let us join in prayer for our brothers and sisters. I can only imagine the stories of His intervention that are happening right now as people all over the world intercede.

So it is such a good time to be reminded Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus. We must not grow weary in our well doing, but we must continue to seek Him and HIs will. If you differ in your opinions with others, do so with grace and mercy. Seek to understand even if you don’t agree. Seek to walk and live in His peace. Darryl Rodman once said: Peace is a gift from God that establishes our hearts and minds in a confident and assured expectation of His care for us no matter what else is going on. There is definitely a lot going on in our world right now.

Father, Help us. Help those we care about. Help our brothers and sisters in Afganistan and around the world who are suffering from persecution. Strengthen us. Teach us to trust in you, no matter what is going on. We choose to cling to our faith. I pray for those fighting Covid and for their families who are trusting in your power of healing. I pray for those who must choose to lose their jobs or get vaccinated against their will. I ask you to help our leaders find solutions that will not rob us of our freedoms. Father, we need you. Help us trust you and your ways during these tough times. In Jesus Name, amen.

Faith and Slime Fun

A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed. Proverbs 15:13

Once a week I spend time with my sons’ children while they both work. The blessing of sharing these duties with their other grandparent has been wonderful. For the past few weeks, one of them asked me if we could make slime. For the uninitiated slime is considered a non-Newtonian compound, which means it doesn’t behave like a solid or a liquid. It doesn’t have its own shape, but takes the shape of the container you place it in. It acts like a solid when you pick it up, but then oozes like a liquid! If you search the internet, you can find many recipes for making this amazing substance. Each of them contains glue and “slime” activator. The activator is most important–it can be a solution of borax, contact lens solution or liquid starch. You can make fluffy slime (add shaving cream), glitter slime, galaxy slime–as many as your imagination can come up with!

There is something relaxing and fun in making the slime, but will they play with it? Will the time and money I have invested in this fun and requested project yield the entertainment aspect we hope for? I don’t know. We will attempt this project today. I am stepping out in faith that these recipes will work and the kids will have fun. When I said yes to my granddaughter’s request, I knew I my investment would be more than hers. I know there is a risk that none of these “recipes” would produce what she is expecting. But, we are going to make memories today. We will work together, with the others and try something. We will experiment and if it works, great! If not, then that’s ok too.

Reading through the book of Ecclesiastes, we find some encouraging scriptures to enjoy life. There is nothing better for a person that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God. Ecclesiastes 2:24 Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat, and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Ecclesiastes 5:18 These two scriptures mention finding enjoyment in his toil. It is a matter of perspective, isn’t it? How we view our “lot” in life. I’ve known other grandparents who see their “lot” as a burden and a struggle. I understand it can be difficult, but I choose to embrace the enjoyment in this opportunity (toil). Learning to re-adjust our attitude is crucial to learning to enjoy the life God has given. If you struggle with enjoying your work, school, family, ministry take the time to search you heart with the Lord. Ask Him to show you how to enjoy your toil!

A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed. Proverbs 15:13 When I find my heart full of sorrow and feeling crushed (which has happened many times) I have learned to talk it over with the Lord. The Holy Spirit is the best attitude adjuster I know. Taking the time to rejoice in the Lord, be thankful for what I do have, instead of what I don’t, developing a grateful heart are all things that help me have a glad heart–therefore a cheerful face! You may not be making slime today, but find something that will bring you some joy. Do something new! Call a friend or family member who needs encouragement.

Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 Parents, remember your children won’t be young forever. People won’t necessarily be around forever either. My summer childcare situation will soon be over. Then homeschooling science and health will begin again with my other grandchildren. I am grateful I see God’s bigger purpose and plan in touching their lives. What areas of responsibility have you taken on that your perspective may need to be refreshed today? Your marriage? Your parenting? Your job? Your ministry?

Father, I thank you for sending refreshment to us on this day. I ask that you help us enjoy the toil opportunities at our hand. Refresh the caregivers. Refresh those in ministry. Refresh the lonely and the overwhelmed. Show them how to enjoy season of life they are in now. In Jesus Name, amen.

Faith and My Heart Cry for the Rising Generation

I remember listening to my parents and their friends as a child talk about cultural changes that appalled them. My sisters and I were teenagers during the 60s and I know they spent many anxious days worried about our choices. We spent a lot of time listening to what seemed to be “lectures” concerning the evils that lurked, just waiting to pounce. As a know it all, I tuned most of it out. However, the good news is the foundation of faith and the Holy Spirit Himself, had laid in my young life, actually kept me safe from most of those “evils”. Looking back now, I wish my parents had released their faith in the God they had pointed us to, rather than focused on their fear. But, they did the best they could and all of us turned out well.

As I look at the world, my grandchildren are growing into, I understand my own parents’ fears and concerns because things are even darker than ever before. I face the same challenge to sit around and say “woe is me” or help build a foundation of faith in their hearts. They attribute Eleanor Roosevelt to the saying “it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”. I could simply sit and wish for an easier season for them, but that is out of my control. As an older person, I want to continue to be a candle lighter. I must believe that with God, they will be able to navigate any darkness that comes their way. I pray for my children to have the wisdom they need to prepare their children for life’s challenges. If I look at the darkness, it seems overwhelming. But when I remember how the Lord brought me through, I trust He is more than able to do the same for them.

Psalm 90:16 Let us see your miracles again, and let the rising generation see the glorious wonders you’re famous for. TPT This is my heart cry. So my challenge to us today is to see our challenges of life as opportunities for our children and grandchildren to watch Him show up. Ask the Lord for His leading when to share your own God stories, no matter how large or small. If you don’t feel you have any, then ask Him for some.

This past week I had my second Covid injection. Due to many allergies, I did a lot of praying concerning getting the Covid vaccine at all. When I finally felt released to do so, I did it in faith. I still suffered some side effects for a few days. It was rough, but as I told someone, I am tough. Our children are tougher than we think as well. Helping them to understand God’s love, God’s truth, along with much grace and mercy helps equip them for their own battles. Mentoring them through their struggles is part of good parenting. I have watched my own children do such an excellent job of encouraging their children and teaching them about spiritual warfare in an age appropriate manner.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of praying with two friends:Faye Johnson, 82 and Eva Bunika, 80. They are both strong, but not as strong as they used to be. What do they have? Strong faith! Why? They have been through things. Talk with Grandma Faye, as she is affectionately called, about growing up as an Afro-American child in the south. She could be bitter because of some of the almost unforgivable unfair things she endured just because of her color. Stories she has shared with me are not easy to hear, but they are her truth. It was God and her parents who helped her love all people. Eva came to this country when she was 43 on a religious persecution visa in her communist homeland. The struggles and fears they endured were real. Read “Tortured for My Faith” by Richard Wurmbrand for some perspective. You may see an older believer and wonder who are they? Take time to find out. Their stories inspire me to stand strong. The Deborahs, Joshuas and other Bible heroes inspire us. There are some among us as well, who we can be inspired by as well. As we prayed together, it was precious and comforting. They choose to light many of their candles through prayer. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:16 This is something we can all do.

Father, I ask you to help us to become candle lighters, rather than darkness cursers. It is easy to complain and lament about how things are, but help us release our faith to believe you are raising up strong warriors to go and do exploits. I ask you for more manifestations of your loving power to be shared. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony. Let us have many testimonies to share with other, including the rising generation. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and God’s Love

Brothers and sisters, I want to remind you today that you are loved. You are loved by the Creator of the Universe, the one who hung the stars in the sky and by His Word told the oceans to remain in their borders. This God cares for you. This God understands your strengths and your weaknesses.

With all of life’s difficulties and challenges, we can sometimes lose sight of that foundational truth. When we do fear, doubt and insecurity rise with in. Our confidence wanes, and negative introspection with judgmental criticism can infiltrate our souls. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love. I John 4:18. Even, though we may suffer consequences of our failings, it will not cause our Lord to love us less. Isn’t that amazing?

I discovered this week a shortcoming in my ability to love. I reacted to someone from my past with unkind thoughts. It was a silly, unwarranted and totally a gut response. I really did not even need the Holy Spirit to check me on my response because it was so obvious to me, it wasn’t right. As I explored my feelings, the Lord revealed envy on my part. Oh Father, create in me a clean heart, help us love others as I Corinthians 13: 4-7 describes. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

With the assurance of God’s love we can declare with Paul as he wrote in Romans 8: Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?…No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. When God says nothing, He means nothing. No guilt, shame, or feelings of disappointment can ever separate us from His love. He is ever working to draw us closer to Him through the gift of His forgiveness.

Another blessing of remembering God’s love is embracing His correction. My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those He loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom He delights. Proverbs 3: 11-12. He is training us to be disciples for His kingdom’s sake. We are to grow up, mature and take our place as influencers for His kingdom in this world. His discipline helps us mature.

Faith and Beating the Bully Part 2

Recap: Last week we looked at beating the bully. To clarify the bully is Satan and his discouraging wily ways to bring disheartenment, disillusionment and depression, with the ultimate goal of causing us to shut down, walk away from faith and hide in the ways of our flesh. He is quite sneaky in his approaches, trying different doors of our soul to undermine our faith in the goodness of God’s character and our place in God’s kingdom.

Recognizing the bully attack is the first step in winning against him. But he is relentless so a one time victory does not mean that he will not try again. So we must be on alert. Ephesians 6:10-11 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. NLT One of his strategies (or wiles) as the King James Version says, is to make you think you are weak and helpless, which leads to hopelessness and depression. My dear friends, we are neither because our strength comes from Him. Basic warfare 101 is to find the lie and counteract it with the truth. His word is truth. As you seek the truth and choose to stand in that truth, we must know Satan must flee from you. Feeling alone and worthless? Choose to believe Deuteronomy 31: 8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Be not afraid, do not be discouraged. Do not let the feeling of discouragement run your life.

I admit there have been some major discouraging things happening in my life. But, even though I have felt discouraged I have chosen to make a stand against it. Outwardly, not much has shifted, but my perspective has. Putting on the helmet of salvation, which covers my head and its vulnerability. When a soldier prepared for battle, the last thing he put on was his helmet. I think, sometimes as believers, we forget this vital part of the armor of God. 2 Corinthians 10:5 declares we can destroy arguments every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. I realized a truth when reading this scripture, that the ultimate design Satan’s purpose is to get us to disobey the Lord. By undermining our confidence in the Lord and His ways, we will find ourselves shying away from His will, purpose, and plan. By focusing our thoughts on ourselves, magnifying our weaknesses and inabilities our faith becomes anemic. This is all a lie of course.

Battling the bully is something all of God’s people must do. Take action my friends. Renew your mind as needed. What is the truth? You are valuable to His kingdom. Take authority over any doubts that would seek to challenge the truth of God’s Word. Hebrews 11:6 declares that he is a rewarder of those that diligently seek him. That includes you and me! As we persevere, we will grow stronger in our faith and do the exploits He promises His people will accomplish!

Stand strong in the Lord, my friends, even when you are feeling shaky. Read through Hebrews 11 and the heroes of our faith who have gone on before. Do not let the bully tell you that you are not important, because that is a lie. The whole body of Christ needs each of us standing in our place, armored up fighting, not only our battle but those of our brothers and sisters.

Refresh your memory of Philippians 4:7: And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Walk in His peace, my friends. Do not let Satan steal it from you.

Father, I ask that you help us fight against the bully of our souls. You have given us tools to do us. You have not left us powerless or friendless. We are so grateful for your word. I ask you to strengthen everyone who is in a long-term battle. May they be refreshed today with your power and might. Help us adjust our perspective from victim to victor no matter what things look like or feel like, In Jesus Name. Amen.

Faith and Beating the Bully

We’ve been studying in our life group about Deborah, so encouraging as we seek to grow into Warrior Women. Two of our group plus their families fought Covid after we began this study, along with many of our church staff. With faith and grace, we all entered the prayer fight. It is with much joy that we can declare that everyone is on the road to recovery.

Despite these victories, I found myself weary and feeling defeated. Putting on worship, reading the word, declaring God’s goodness are my normal tools I use when I am feeling pressed in. Instead of my life opening up, I felt like I was getting smaller and more ineffective in my life. As I shared with our ladies’ last night, we discovered I wasn’t alone! Others were also feeling diminished and silenced in their sphere of influence. It felt like the hills of obstacles were growing into mountains, with no relief or response from prayer. During our time of prayer, one gal said the word “bully” and I realized we were all being bullied and intimidated into silence and inactivity.

How about you? Have you encountered that bully lately in your life? Those subtle or not-so-subtle taunts about how your God really will do nothing to change the circumstances? My personal family received two difficult diagnoses that are, in the natural, long term with no cure type issues. As we keep praying, the bully looms large and says “why bother”, nothing is changing or will change. Today, I am scheduled for a contrasting CT scan to help discover the cause of increasing pain in my left abdomen. The bully is trying to get me to focus on the worse case scenario, when we don ‘t even know what it is. I have held my ground and have chosen not to go there.

In life we have long-term battles. We can settle under them, or we can choose to continue to fight for victory. Our bully would like to cause us to shrink and settle for less than God’s plan. We have not heard a word from the Lord to stop fighting for total health, so we fight on. I choose to keep on knocking, keep on seeking and keep on trusting for His plan and His purpose to be revealed. Our bully goes around as a roaring lion seeking who he can devour, and I admit lately I think he has taken a few bites out of my soul. His bites include condemnation, accusation and doubt. With these bites, he wanted to leave behind an infection that would cause me to lose hope, stop believing and stop praying. His goal was to bring discouragement and cause my heart to be disheartened.

But his plan was uncovered. I will not grow weary in well doing. I will not stop praying and I will not stop trusting my God to do miracles. Deborah was a strong leader. She heard the word of the Lord and spoke victory to Barak. Barak had 10,000 fighting men; his opponent had 40,000 fighting men, plus 900 chariots. But Barak had the word of the Lord on His side, so do we. (Read the story in Judges 4 and 5).

It is humbling to admit the bully was winning in his battle to render me weak and wimpy. But the good news is that no matter how wimpy I feel, God is still strong. He continues showing off His might and power. This morning I realized the bully was attacking God’s character. My most precious Rock, the steadfast one, is always true to His Word. My mind was distracted by the bully’s words and his attempt to cause me to lean upon my own understanding, not His. Our Awesome God continues to work His work, no matter how we feel, and for that I am very grateful.

Father, we silence the bully’s words in our ears. We release your Words of life into every situation that looks contrary to God’s plan. We choose to trust you and your ways. We lean hard upon you and we know you will show us the path of life. In Jesus Name, Amen